Newsletter Links: December 2019

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Listen:

If you haven't yet, don't forget to register for our first Charter Cities Conference on March 17-18 in Johannesburg, South Africa!

Today we're also proud to release our 2019 Annual Report, highlighting our year in review. We're proud of what we've accomplished in 2019 and look forward to redoubling our efforts in 2020.

What we're reading these days:

Recently I've spent most of my time thinking about state capacity, which in simple terms, "describes the ability of a state to collect taxes, enforce law and order, and provide public goods." It’s probably not a surprise to anyone reading this that by this standard, Nigeria has low state capacity, but a recent Financial Times article indicates just how low.

“The Abuja-Kaduna highway — one of the country’s most important commercial thoroughfares, leading from the capital to the vast northern market — has become Ground Zero for the scourge of kidnapping.“ Read the rest of the article and you’ll find more warning signs. A flourishing kidnapping market is a sign of one thing: that the true monopoly of force on violence—one of the basic features of any state—does not lie with the government. (Paywalled, unfortunately).

Ethiopia is having a moment right now. This week they’re launching their first satellite (though from China) for “better agricultural planning, early warnings for drought, mining activities and forestry management.” And sounds like that’s just the beginning, too.

The saga of South African Airways (SAA), South Africa's state-owned airline, has been interesting to follow. The airline hasn't made a profit since 2011, which some critics say shouldn't be a suprise. After all, solvent flag carriers are rare. There were reports that SAA might be purchased by Ethiopian Airlines, but for now it looks like SAA is in bankruptcy protection, similar to Chapter 11 in the US.  

Yesterday on Twitter someone asked about the best books to read on Singapore's visionary leader, Lee Kuan Yew. I recommended his own words as a starting point. And here is a great book about LKY, but not by him.

You'll probably enjoy Tyler Cowen's conversation with Daron Acemoglu, author of Why Nations Fail and most recently, The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty.

From Marginal Revolution: a short but satisfying history of Chinese state capacity.

Manufacturers are moving out of China, but the trend both predates the trade war, and seems to extend to non-American manufacturers. This Diplomat article explains why.

Elsewhere in the continent, countries are competing to lure manufacturers leaving China. Malaysia, Thailand, and Indinesia are all using a mix of financial incentives and deregulation to take advantage of the China exodus.

As always, thanks for reading--see you again in a few weeks for our December updates.

And from all of us at the Charter Cities Institute, wishing you a sincerely Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

-Tamara Winter
Communications Lead, Charter Cities Institute